New Year status report 2019

This is my sixth year of writing up the status of my books – see 2014, 20152016, 2017, and 2018.

In February, my first novel, the WWI spy adventure The Wreck of the Argyll, was re-released by Cranachan, who’d previously published my Pictish adventure The Beast on the Broch.

In June, my sci-fi short story “The Whisperer” was published as one of the shortlisted stories in the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize Anthology 2018.

In August, I self-published a short collection of sci-fi and fantasy stories called Under the Mountain and Other Stories, which I produced in collaboration with my artist friend Anh Diep, who contributed both the cover art and interior illustrations for each story.

In terms of new writing, I re-drafted one short story with a new ending, finished a half-completed second, and wrote a third. I haven’t managed to get any of these published.

I currently have no works on submission to publishers, agents, magazines, or competitions, and nothing scheduled for publication.

I haven’t touched my children’s novels for two years now, and I can’t see that changing. The effort involved in turning my terrible first drafts into decent manuscripts that I’d be happy to submit is far beyond my current level of motivation to muster.

What’s more, I’ve come to the conclusion that children’s literature isn’t a good fit for me. If you’re not a celebrity author (and that’s a rant for another day), if your books struggle to get any shelf space (never mind table space) in bookshops, or if you don’t have a big marketing budget behind you, you’re going to drown in a sea of more prominent books. As far as I can see, in these circumstances the only way to get your books read by anyone is to do loads of book festivals and school visits. I’ve done a couple of book festivals, and we launched The Beast on the Broch with a school visit, but public speaking is something I’ve always found extremely stressful, and I just don’t have the right personality to entertain kids. To be frank, if I’d known that being an entertainer was a requirement for writing children’s books I’d never have attempted to write for that age group in the first place!

So, if I’m retiring from children’s books, what’s next?

I’ll probably still write the occasional short story, primarily for my own amusement. Apart from that, who knows? At some point I may end up working on that sci-fi novel I’ve always wanted to write. It would be pure self-indulgence, but maybe that’s what I need.